This is a question we are often asked by entrepreneurs who are looking into ways to protect their intellectual property. These are often people for whom patent protection is not possible or for whom it is too expensive. Design rights may be the answer in such cases. The costs of a design registration are much lower and you get a lot for it throughout the whole of Europe. How does a design registration work, what does it protect and of course: what are the costs involved?
What is a design right?
You can obtain a design right by means of a design registration. It is a smart move to safeguard your design throughout Europe. Design rights are a form of intellectual property right specifically focussed on the appearance or design of a product or item.
The characteristic appearance of Lego blocks is a good example of this. The studs and surrounding surfaces not only have a technical function, but also an aesthetic one. It contributes to the "look" of the popular toy. By establishing the design right to this design through design registration, the appearance of the product is protected against copying. This makes design rights different from patents, which protect the technology behind an innovation. With a design registration you can protect the exterior, the design, of both two and three-dimensional objects.
Examples of designs that lend themselves well to protection as a design in terms of their appearance include:
- Consumer products
- Building materials
- Industrial designs
Europe or Benelux: a breakdown of the costs
The nice thing about a design right is that, compared to other intellectual property rights, it is relatively cheap and your design is almost automatically protected within the European Union. It is not possible to apply for design protection for the Netherlands only, but with a single design registration for Europe this is not necessary either. The alternative is design protection for the Benelux countries. However, a quick calculation soon shows that it is more beneficial to opt for design registration for Europe.
Design protection for the Benelux countries costs €1,140. A single European design registration costs €1,340. So for an additional €200 you will have protection in an additional 24 countries. This includes the first five years of protection and the design attorney's consultancy fees. You can opt to renew the right after every five years for up to a maximum of 25 years. The costs for such a renewal increase slightly each time; from €565 to €655 per 5 years.
How can you use a design right?
It is always a good idea to protect your intellectual property. It strengthens your position in the market and deprives competitors of the chance to bring a similar design onto the market. This works in two different ways, offensively as well as defensively. Apple is an example of how companies use the offensive strategy. Apple thinks very carefully about the scope of protection by protecting every detail of, for example, their iPhone separately, such as the round home button at the bottom of the screen. This is how Apple tries to prevent other parties from copying the external details. The chances of a competitor abusing their creative labour thus becomes nil. On the other hand, with a defensive strategy, a product can be protected against copying at an attractive price.
With a design registration, therefore, the design right ensures that it is not easy to infringe. With a European Design Right, you tackle infringement as much as possible and thus secure your own position.
Design rights in online shops
One advantage of a design right that is becoming increasingly important nowadays is the value attached to them by online shops. Many popular consumer products are copied by copycats who offer them in online shops such as Bol.com and Amazon. If you have a design right to the original product, these online shops are generally very accommodating when it comes to removing the copycats' products.
Requirements of design protection
Design rights therefore offer absolutely relevant protection and are also relatively affordable. If you would like to know for sure whether your design qualifies for this, please check the overview below, this overview page, do the design check or contact us.